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Guide for Steelhead Fishing in Cattaraugus Creek

August 24, 2015

Cattaraugus Creek offers over 34 miles of steelhead angling opportunities from Lake Erie to the Springville Dam. A portion of the stream and its lower tributaries are on Seneca Nation of Indian Lands, so if you plan to fish there, you will need a license for the Reservation.

The "Catt" is a large stream, averaging over 100 feet wide and varying from slow water near Lake Erie to boulder filled rapids in the scenic Zoar Valley Area upstream of Gowanda. The Cattaraugus rarely runs clear due to fine suspended sediment from numerous exposed clay banks along its course.

While the majority of the steelhead in the Cattaraugus Creek are the result of smolt stockings by NYS-DEC, there is significant natural reproduction that adds to the fishery. Recent studies found that as much as 25% of the steelhead are of wild origin. Projects are being planned and implemented to increase the contribution of wild steelhead in the Cattaraugus system.

Several tributaries to Cattaraugus Creek offer steelhead opportunities in a small stream setting. Some of these streams include; Clear Creek and its North Branch, a short section of the S. Branch of Cattaraugus Creek, Derby Brook, Coon Brook and Spooner Creek. The N. Branch Clear Creek and Spooner Creek are closed to fishing from January 1- March 31 to protect spawning fish.

This gives a brief overview of the Cattaraugus Creek fishery. For more detailed information, call the Allegany DEC office or the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit at (716) 366-0228.


The map shows the approximate locations of areas open to the public for fishing. Please note that most of the stream and its tributaries are on private property or Seneca Nation of Indians Lands.

Steelhead Tackle

Steelhead in Cattaraugus Creek generally average 3-6 pounds, but fish from 8-12 pounds are common so fairly heavy equipment is required. Spinning rods of 7'-9' in length, capable of casting 1/2 ounce lures and using 6-12 lb. test lines are needed.
Fly rods from 8'-10' in length that handle 6-10 weight lines work well for landing these fish.

Catch and Release

The steelhead of Cattaraugus Creek are a magnificent resource that can be enjoyed by anglers more than once. By voluntarily releasing some or all of the steelhead you catch you can help to ensure high catch rates for yourself and other anglers throughout the season.

Fly-Fishing Guides

Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters can take you on a fly-fishing trip on the Cattaraugus Creek.